REVIEW: Reverend’s Sensei 290

Reverend Musical Instruments was founded by Joe Naylor: guitarist, industrial designer, and graduate of Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. Prior to that, Joe ran a store specializing in sales and repairs of vintage and used gear. This evolved into boutique amps and vintage style speakers but was eventually sold in favor of producing uniquely styled guitars with respect for vintage design. The Sensei 290 represents just one of their many set-neck offerings.

FRESH OUTTA THE BOX

The cool thing about all of Reverend’s guitars is their unique style. The Sensei 290 is no exception. The body shape has sharp double cutaway horns offset in height. This balances aesthetically with the lower bout on the treble side which falls away in somewhat of a teardrop fashion. A batwing style pickguard is mounted under two soapbar style P90 pickups with black covers. Hardware includes a heavy duty 3-way pickup switch, knurled chrome knobs for master volume, master tone, and bass contour, Tune-O-Matic style bridge with stop tailpiece, and Reverend’s custom Pin-Lock tuners. Materials include solid Korina for the body, one piece Korina for the 22-fret neck, a rosewood fingerboard with pearloid block inlays and single-layer binding, and graphite nut. The guitar I received had a cream top glued to a black-finished body, neck, and headstock. This guitar is also available in Wine Red. Construction-wise the guitar was very nicely and professionally finished. There were a few areas of visible imperfections, but they were minor and the sealing was top notch. The back of the headstock was hand-initialed and serialized during final setup which adds a thoughtful personal touch.

LET’S TALK FEEL. LET’S TALK TONE

This guitar felt great in my hands. The bass side is contoured and fit snug to my body. It’s well balanced and solid. The neck profile, described as medium oval by Reverend, allowed for a comfortable grip. Chordal fingerings and changes felt easy to execute, and I played single note passages with confidence along the well-contoured large jumbo frets and smooth 12″ radius fingerboard.

Checking the sound, I plugged into an Egnater Tweaker. The delivery from this guitar is what I consider a cross between a clean modern sound and vintage-style tone. From the bridge to the neck to the neck/bridge combo, which is wired for hum cancellation, notes came through with purity accompanied by a touch of P90 warmth and roundness. Unique to Reverend guitars is a bass contour control which complements the tone control by rolling off bass frequencies. After using this feature I scratched my head thinking, “Why don’t all guitars have a bass contour knob?”

THE FINAL WRAP

Reverend scores with a solid and uniquely attractive offering from their set-neck series. The Sensei 290 feels great, plays great, and sounds great. Compatible with both its stylings and sound, this guitar seems most suitable for rock, surf, and blues, though it’s certainly versatile enough to appeal to a broader range of genres.

PROS: Aesthetically attractive and unique, solid construction, pure sound with warm character, additional bass frequency control.

CONS: None

MSRP – $899

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Dan Coplan is senior staff writer at SMG. Dan is a Los Angeles based cinematographer and self-admitting guitar junkie. Email: dancoplan@sharemyguitar.com

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